Uneasy republicans

NEW JERSEY - It was downright surreal to listen to President Obama's State of the Union Address last week. It was downright surreal to hear the leader of the most powerful country in the world stoop to making a case that government can play a beneficial role in people's lives.

Lee Siegel,

17 de fevereiro de 2013 | 01h00

And what Obama was virtually pleading for was the bare minimum of what government can and should be doing. He asked the country, and the fanatical Republican opposition to, please, allow him to invest more in education. To make it possible for low-income and moderate-income children to gain access to pre-school. To raise the minimum wage to $9.00 from $7.25. To reform immigration. To pass new gun control laws. Oh boy. What a daring agenda.

In return, Obama has put entitlements on the table, saying, as he has been saying, that cuts in Medicare are necessary. Yet even with the promise to cut Medicare, and with the trivial federal investment that Obama is calling for, the Republicans are going wild. He is not addressing the deficit, they say, he is driving the country to financial ruin, and so on and so forth. By now Obama's timidity is a familiar trait. During the presidential campaign, the Republicans revealed themselves to be so in thrall to the extreme right wing of the party, so stuck in some fantastical past that Obama's reelection and its rebuff to the Republicans seemed satisfying enough. So what if the president lacks vision and spine? He's one of the good guys. He's on our side.

Yet it is mind-boggling that, with all the tremendous wealth and power the liberal establishment possesses, it doesn't make Obama's case for a benevolent, active government more creatively.

Liberals, who with the exception of the Murdoch-owned Fox network really do control the media in this country, might begin with a feature film that depicts a hypothetical America in which, as so many conservatives wish for, government has ceased to play any role in people's lives, and no American citizen pays taxes.

The movie could begin with a deregulared nightmare. The camera pans over homes with oil rigs in their backyards (as I've written in this space before, this is actually happening in some parts of the country). We see verdant valleys lined with strip malls. Some towns are so thick with toxic emissions that the inhabitants have to make their way along the crumbling sidewalks with flashlights in the middle of the day. Cars will no longer have seatbelts or airbags. Speed limits will have been abolished, so with the combination of no safety measures in cars, and no curbs on speed, the streets and highways will be scattered with the dying and the Dead.

And since there will be no public hospitals or public ambulances, the dying will just have to lie there until someone pulls over to take them to the privately owned hospitals: Google Hospital or Facebook Hospital. Unfortunately, not many people will have time to pull over. Since there will be no minimum wage, many people will be working for 25 cents an hour and will have to work 80-hour weeks just to be able to afford the mortages now being offered by banks that have been sold to the oil companies, which now have attached a 40 percent interest rate to the mortgages they make.

The spare time people do have will mostly be taken up with self-policing since there will be no tax money to fund any type of law-enforcement. This will also mean that people who don't have the money to buy guns-offered by some banks along with a mortgage, for an extra fee, of course-will have to resort to making their own weapons, which will result in a lot of mishaps. But since all healthcare will be private, and the very best doctors owned by the very wealthiest citizens, who have taken advantage of the "Purchase a Doctor" program sponsored by Microsoft, many people, along with having to make their own weapons, will also have to teach themselves basic medical techniques, like heart and brain surgery, for example.

One positive consequence of no government is that the children will not have to witness the bypass surgery being performed in their living rooms, or their parents accidentally shooting themselves with homemade weapons. Children over 5 will not just be working 80-hour weeks along with their parents-they will also running the television networks and the movie studios since by that point the only people with enough time to enjoy entertainment will be children under 5. The 6-year-olds and up who run the entertainment industry will have a good sense of their audience's Taste.

But maybe I am being too pessimistic. There will most likely not be so many accidents on the streets and highways because the streets and highways will have fallen into such disrepair that no one will be able to drive on them. As for kids running TV and movies, since no one will be able to afford the rates charged by the private utility companies-now owned by the one of the 100 ruling families that own the oil companies that own the banks-very few people will be able to afford any type of television or computer to begin with, so the kids might have more time to spend on their work in factories assembling iPods and iPads, which are now being updated every hour instead of every 12 months.

So there is a silver lining to every little cloud. On secoond thought, maybe such a movie shouldn't be made, after all. There are probably too many people who might like the idea of an ungoverned hell.

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